8 Tips and Tricks To Winning The Point Reyes Sand Sculpture Contest

The Annual Sand Sculpture Contest at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes is Sunday, August 25, 2019 from 9am–3:30pm. I'm not a master sculptor but I have entered and won a number of contests and have some tips and tricks to share that could help you get placed in the top rankings.

1. Think of an idea that is current, unique from all others on the beach and that the judges might not have seen before. Check the Internet and news for inspiration. Print it out and refer to it while you are creating your masterpiece. A clever title helps a lot. One year I made a bee on a flower, nothing special but I called it “Revenge of the Drones” - a tribute to the movie that had just some out and bee population decline in the news. That won first place.

2. Once you have your idea it’s time to gather the tools you need in advance. Some recommendations include buckets, shovels, rakes, leveling tool, forks, trowel, sculpting tools, paint brushes, squirt bottle is a must, what ever you have. Some unique items include a melon baller, cake-icing spreader or items found on the beach…what ever you think will help you achieve your vision. 

3. When you register, the solo adult category tends to have less people signed up than the group category. Less competitors increases your chance to win. I chose the recycle category and won first place with my tide pool adorned with sand starfish and muscle shells surrounded by trash I (unfortunately) found on the beach topped with a smoking seagull and called it "California Costal Clean Up". It was seriously ugly but won first place. Categories include: Children (fourteen years of age and under), Families, Adult Individuals, and Adult Groups. Three prizes will be awarded in each of those categories, along with prizes for the sculpture with the most recycled plastic included.

4. Scout out the best location. You will find the real serious carvers near the shallow pool of water on the right. The sand is very sticky and clay-like. The secret to a great sand sculpture lies in wet sand and compaction. Once, I made a sculpture in a high traffic area where twice, kids accidentally walked into it. Irregardless, my sunbathers (below) won 2nd place and I had a blast! Another time, I parked myself too close to the ocean edge thinking I will not have to schlep pails down to the water but eventually it was too close to the tide.

5. Cleaning up around the area can make your piece look finished. Use cool final touches such as rocks, grind stones to a powder for different colors, seaweed, shells, and recycled plastic are all fair game. 

6. Arrive early and be sure to allow enough time to finish.

7. Bring a picnic and spend the day! And don't forget lots of water, lotion, hats, towels and be prepared for weather of any kind. Dress in layers and keep hydrated.

8. Finally, have a fantastic time. This is a fun project to plan out and do with friends and family members of all ages. 

Even if you do not plan to enter, spectators can feast their eyes on some truly amazing sand sculptures. Year after year, it never disappoints. Hope to see you there.

Ronnie, Sun Bathers, 2nd Place Solo, Point Reyes Sand Sculpture Contest, 2013. Photo by NPS/Christine Vanderbeek. Not bad considering 2 kids ran threw them. Make sure you are not in a heavy foot traffic.

Ronnie, Sun Bathers, 2nd Place Solo, Point Reyes Sand Sculpture Contest, 2013. Photo by NPS/Christine Vanderbeek. Not bad considering 2 kids ran threw them. Make sure you are not in a heavy foot traffic.